Paul Kedrosky has an insightful blog, usually about biz, but Paul offered up some great travel tips last year. Here are are few from his blog post (Paul stuff in italics).
When going through airport security avoid lines containing vehicles (i.e., infants in strollers, or oldsters in wheelchairs). Both tend to be highly unpredictable.
(Whoops – actually I don’t agree with this one – better to count people in the line since chairs take up more space and get through faster in general due to priorities for the TSA folks)
Print your boarding pass at home/office before the flight. Automated terminals at airport tendly, preventing you from getting on a flight that you could have otherwise made.
EXCELLENT TIP – learn how to PRINT YOUR PASSES !
Look to the front of Customs lines to find ones sharing officers. Entry in Vancouver, Canada, is the best example, where the far left station shares offices were with two and sometimes three other people. You can have huge lines, and still get through faster there.
Get a seat early via the phone, and then ask for another seat at airport.
There are often power outlets at hidden seats behind the check-in counter.
You can often get free WiFi by sitting on your suitcase outside airlines’ premium lounges.
Provide short, monosyllabic, and polite answers to Customs Officers’ questions. Be sure to smile that wan, just-landed-after-a-12-hour-flight smile the whole time.
Always ask when renting cars if the outlet is at the airport. Not all airlines companies maintain airport offices at all airports, and discovering that during a last-minute, unexpected bus ride is a giant pain-in-the-ass.
NOTE that you may need to allow up to an hour to return your car and make it back to Airport when the return building is far away, as with BWI.
I’d add that airport stays do not have to be stressful and painful. Have some fun. If you travel regularly to a particular Airport get to know it better, find a few nice restaurants or lounges that you like. If your flights don’t line up perfectly (as is usual) just take some “down time” for a nice meal, catching up on email, or idle web surfing. You can have a good time even when the surroundings are stressful if you focus on things you do regularly and enjoyably.